How did I get started?

The theme for Week 1 in the #52ancestors challenge is “Start”

I can’t remember how old I was when I first got interested in family history and mine in particular. We are a very close knit family – my parents and a younger brother.

Mum’s parents were still alive while I was a child but had died by the time I was 10. I can remember visiting them at their house and having meals there. The main thing I remember is their toilet was outside. Pa England had lots of birds and loved growing fruit trees while Nanna England kept the house tidy and it was always warm and welcoming.

The photo shows my mum, her sister Margaret and her parents Henry and Hannah England. Probably taken in the early 1950s.

Dad’s parents were different. His mum was still alive until the 1980s but his father had left the family when dad was 2 years old. His mum married again, just before I was born, to a Polish repatriated soldier who came here to work on the Hydro dams. For most of his life, though, dad lived with his foster family – the Avery family.

These two photos show dad’s mum and stepfather and his foster mother with her dog Monty.

At high school in the 1960s, as part of the social sciences subject, we had to create a family tree. If I were to look at that same tree now after 40+ years of researching, there would be many errors especially on dad’s side since I have started delving into his DNA.

Readers: How did you get started with your family history research?

19 thoughts on “How did I get started?

  1. Hi all,
    When I around 10 years old there was a School project on the family tree. Mum did not know all the details.
    In 1982 a family member brought Mum a book on the family tree and I asked if I could copy the tree. The family member said yes.
    Another family member member gave me a copy of the family tree on Dad’s side.
    From the information on both sides I have gathered lots of information. In 1988 there was a family Reunion on Dad’s side so we went to that.
    I have been to 2 other family reunions since then.

    • Hi Sue,
      Family reunions are great places to gather information. But before I put anything on my tree on Ancestry, I have to have seen proof of the facts. Luckily in Tasmania, most of our records are online at either LINC or in Trove through the newspapers.

  2. I was going to Ireland to visit my dad’s relatives. I thought I’d visit my grandmother to find out more. I couldn’t be bothered writing so I taped it. Best thing ever. Haven’t stopped researching since.

    • Hi Mary,
      Thanks for leaving a comment. We are always being told to ask questions and interview our relatives. Having completed the Oral History unit in the Diploma of Family History, I would say this is most important. With only one aunt, I decided to interview her a year or so ago for the oral history unit. I am so glad I did as she passed away in November 2017. Now I have a couple of recordings of her speaking about her life as a child and during war.

  3. When my father died in 1980, I realised that I knew nothing about his side of the family. I had never met any of his relatives and knew nothing about his origins other than he had grown up in Tasmania and had been brought up by his grandparents. This set me off on a quest which has never stopped!
    I was quite young and didn’t have a clue where to start so I enrolled in a course called “Tracing your Family Tree”.
    Dad was quite elusive and it took me seven years to finally track down his birth certificate but in the meantime I started researching Mum’s side of the family. I was hooked!

    • Hi Kerry,
      Thanks for leaving a comment. I think a lot of people start this quest after someone dies and perhaps they find some artifacts in the attic or storage and they wonder where they come from. But this genealogy and researching is certainly very addictive.

  4. Hi Sue. I think I really have to thank UTAS and the Dipfamhis for setting me off on my search. I have always been interested in family history and have been told by my parents I ask too many questions! I knew very little of my ancestry, and what I did was far from fact. Consequently, my research has been incredibly rewarding and addictive.

    • Hi Pat,
      Thanks for commenting. If you don’t ask questions, you won’t get an answer! Then you are left wondering. At least with an answer you have something you can research to prove it fact or fiction – my dad’s side is very much fiction so far.

  5. Hi Sue. My mother has always been very proud of the fact that her childhood was spent on a farm at Boat Harbour in Tasmania’s North West. About February 1986 we went on a family holiday to the North West area – myself, husband, 3 children and my parents. We visited areas that Mum remembered as a child including cemeteries. Mum told us that her great grandparents had emigrated from England, had 13 children and they were buried at Forth so we put the Forth Cemetery on our list of places to see. We found the right cemetery (there are several in the area) and as I stood before the large headstone on their grave and saw that my great great grandfather had been born in 1832 and died in 1901 and my great great grandmother had died in 1934, I had a great urge to know more about them. Almost 32 years later I know a lot about them and my other great great grandparents but my search for family information will never be over …. as all genealogists understand.

    • Hi Chris,
      Thanks for commenting. Your great great grandmother must have died at a grand age to have outlived her husband by 30 years. What surnames are they?

      • They were Robert and Martha (nee Barker) Snare. They arrived in 1857 as part of the Launceston Immigration Aid Society scheme. Martha’s parents, two sisters and brother also arrived on the same ship, the Southern Eagle. All people in Tasmania with the surname SNARE are descendants of Robert and Martha.

  6. You are a wonderful facilitator, networker and repository of information Sue. Can you add me to the list of #52ancestors please.

  7. My name is Shane and I am a genealogy addict. This is my story.

    I guess I am a victim of leaf hints on Ancestry.com – and a small flood.

    Most of my life I have not had a lot of strong family connections. I have always enjoyed history especially “history from below” (and I am sociology academic in my paid job) but my addiction developed, however, when my flat got flooded by a freak storm and I found some 30 year old papers that I had put away for no real reason. The papers were a family tree book that my former partner had sketched out a few connections in and letter from a distant cousin asking for any info I had, people I knew directly, and in return for which he had sent me the relevant line of my family (as a long series of connected bits of paper).

    Anyrate not wanting to lose it in the next flood I thought I’d put it on my laptop – whereupon I was struck by the idea that Ancestry would have a family tree structure that I could just enter the information into – and then it would be save on my hard drive and that would be that. Alas it would turn out that ‘leaf hints’ are, in fact, a gateway drug.

    Having entered the paper trail – and added in the notes from the old family tree book – I noticed these leaf hints that I had heard about on Ancestry ads and decided to click on one of them. This lead to my low slow decline into genealogical addiction. It all started with a few innocent clicks and before I knew it it had taken over my life. Suddenly I found myself taking hours online researching, as well as travelling to distant places where my ancestors had been, and walking through old cemeteries seemed like a perfectly sane thing to be doing – such is the price one pays for being a genealogical addict.

    After building a tree with few hundred people – and thinking maybe I had First Fleet connections (I don’t) I decided that I should put my researchers hat on. At this point the addiction took on a new phase – from being fun to being serious. I decided to do a Diploma to learn more about my addiction and now am spending long nights re-doing my tree – going back over it and weeding out the fake connections – and getting it right.

    Pretty soon I expect it will be all finished and I tell everyone that the family tree is finished and I can put my addiction behind me and move on with more important things in my life.

    At this stage though I still have 942 leafy hints and 242 DNA hints to process I am sure it won’t take much longer…

  8. I started loosely researching my Family Tree when I retired in 2008. I purchased an Ancestry Membership and away I went, periodically adding what I knew. Then I found the Diploma of Family History course at UTAS and I was well and truly hooked. But oh, what an eye opener it was for me to find out about sources, referencing and citing. Now nothing is ever added to my tree unless I know it is true first hand or I have a source for it.

    • G’day Marcia,
      Sources, references and citing – so important to learn early on in our researching. I jotted down lots of things back in my early days at archives with microfilm and microfiche – luckily most of those jottings can now be found online through LINC so I don’t have to go looking again.

  9. I love that you started this with a school project! I so wish my school would have had something similar. I look forward to reading more from you!

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